Humble versus Insecure—and the value of “But, Lord…!”

cat-1106968_1920 (1)To begin with, Moses was humble; Saul was insecure. 

Moses had his insecurities, for sure.  There are at least five (count ‘em, five!) “but, Lords…!” in that whole discussion about who was going to do the talking to Pharaoh.  However, Moses was humble enough to be honest with God about them, and in so doing, God provided for him in the very midst of those insecurities.  In fact, we see Moses’ character develop into quite an assertive leader.  And it started with humble honesty.

King Saul, on the other hand, had a crippling fear of man; that is, he was ruled, not by what God thought, but by what the people thought, or what he thought the people thought.  We see this several times throughout Saul’s tenure, but an interesting thing happens after one particular battle which was quite successful, at least in Saul’s eyes… Continue reading “Humble versus Insecure—and the value of “But, Lord…!””

Advertisements

ASSUME nothing

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280I’ve used this media file before, (that’s what we call it now, I suppose, at least it sounds more impressive that “picture”.) 

post
http://www.amazon.com

Media file wasn’t a phrase when Norman Rockwell was around, or if it was, it certainly wasn’t digital.  Just about everything is digital now-a-days.  I still haven’t quite figured out what that means, as opposed to analog, I mean.  Continue reading “ASSUME nothing”

Feast on which beast?

NR thanks
Thanks to Norman Rockwell for this amazing painting: Freedom From Want.

This is the time of year I really kind of wish I had a chest freezer down in the basement.  The 20+ pound turkeys are on mega-sale, and the fresh cranberries will only be around for a month or so.

No matter, as the traditional American Thanksgiving Day feast that so many of us are blessed to gorge ourselves on will, by God’s grace, come around again next year.  My sister-in-law is the usual head chef at our yearly family gathering.  (Personally, I prefer to stay in the background and help with the clean-up.)  The main thing with the traditional meal, however, is the fun and hilarity that can follow shortly after about the first ten minutes of feasting and before the tryptophan kicks in. Continue reading “Feast on which beast?”

It stings!

In the mass hysteria that is the superhero-universe phenom, here are a couple of guys that are somewhat overlooked:

green hornet (1)
Credit: Newsweek/google images

Give it time.  Hollywood will find a way.

The other kind of hornet is more real in my personal experience as a school nurse, however.  One of the custodians in my school building was called to go kill a wasp or two flying around inside the building one the second day of school because there were a couple of kiddos registered as “allergic”.  (SOOOooo glad the teachers read my notes to them—thank you and I love you!!)

Clearly, stinging insects have been around doing their thing for a long time: Continue reading “It stings!”

Take me, break me, make me

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280Now here’s a character I really relate to—Saul.  No, not the apostle, unfortunately.  His story turned out pretty well, considering he wrote over half the New Testament and all. 

I’m talking about the Old Testament Saul, and the making of the erstwhile monarch of Israel.  It’s not like he asked for the position, after all, and despite all the positive social markers, he had a serious fear-of-man-self-preservation complex going on.

Thus, I can relate.

Here’s what’s going on:

The prophet Samuel has told Saul to wait for him seven days at Gilgal.   Samuel will arrive, present the offerings to God, and then Saul and his army will go wipe out the enemy de jour. This was a clear mandate, unmistakable in its direction and timing.  No discussion needed.

But there was a problem.  Samuel didn’t show up.  And on top of that:

“The Philistines mustered a mighty army of 3,000 chariots, 6,000 charioteers, and as many warriors as the grains of sand on the seashore!”

Which, granted, would be a bit intimidating.  It certainly was for Saul’s men, who suddenly must have heard their wives calling them home for lunch or something. Consequently, Saul’s army began thinning out, and fast.  The king made a decision:

“So he demanded, “Bring me the burnt offering and the peace offerings!” And Saul sacrificed the burnt offering himself. 

Just as Saul was finishing with the burnt offering, Samuel arrived.”

Oops.

Needless to say, Saul’s explanation was less than effective, and Samuel’s edict was unfortunate, as was the rest of Saul’s reign.

“’How foolish!’ Samuel exclaimed. ‘You have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you. Had you kept it, the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever.  But now your kingdom must end, for the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart.’”

Saul didn’t know it, but God had had him uniquely positioned for a serious breakthrough.  But Saul blew it.

Whereas our modern-day markets and media value tangible results, heavenly success is measured in terms of obedience.  If Saul had remembered his history, he could have leaned on the exciting story of Gideon and his paltry three-hundred, or even Moses at the Red Sea before the onslaught of Egyptian chariots.  Instead, the first king of Israel decided to interpret his situation by his own (very limited) appraisal. 

Sadly, his assessment left out one incredibly big Resource.

Because our God specializes in seemingly no-win situations.  He will bring me to a breaking point where I have a clear choice between obedience or expediency. When that happens, it can mean that sometimes—or many times—He will actually let me be broken, shattered, shards on the floor.  Careful where you step.  Part of the dream is over there; a piece of my heart is in that corner.  Where’d I put the broom?

What I desperately need to remember in those periods, (and they do come), is that obedience proceeds breakthrough.  That is, God will do the breaking, then I have to walk through it.   This gets a bit uncomfortable for a time; nevertheless, I am never alone.  Ever.

“Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.”

There’s that word “through” again.  (Selah…)

I also need to remember that the condition of my heart in obedience before God is more important to Him than the size of my “army”…or church…or bank account…or any relationship.  My focus needs to be, and stay, on the clear directive.

Because God will show up; He always does. 

1 Samuel 13:5,9-10,13-14; Psalm 23:4 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved

Who’s measuring stick is in your tool box?

IMG_20150124_162302245Bob was NOT pleased.  I don’t remember the exact scenario, something about possible plane tickets I think.  I just remember I had made him very, very nervous by my looking into some potential plans without cluing him in, but not because he’s a control-freak.  It’s simply that after almost forty years of marriage, he knows:

“You have a way of just making things happen!” Continue reading “Who’s measuring stick is in your tool box?”

Roger, Wilco

plane-607224_1920This past summer Bob and I enjoyed visiting my parents in their beautiful Midwest retirement community—it’s like a college campus for the over-60 crowd.  They’re incredible!  Interestingly, we were also roaming around the California Redwood Forest just few weeks prior to that, and in my mind, there is a striking resemblance between the two in more ways than one, if you get my drift.

Now a retired engineer, Dad is a United States Navy veteran who worked as a mechanic on airplanes, and his stories keep me spellbound.  While we were visiting, a neighbor stopped in.  Mr. B is a 90+-year-old U.S.A.F. bomber pilot vet from World War II.  (Triple exclamation marks…!!!) Continue reading “Roger, Wilco”

To paint, or not to paint

wood 2I don’t know about you, but the reality staring back at me in the morning mirror is not always a pretty site.  Bob, bless his heart, thinks I look great rumpled and without any makeup, so there you have it, folks—love truly is blind.  But a little hair gel and face paint after the morning shower and before heading out the door to work does wonders to make a girl feel slightly more alive.

That, and a little caffeine, I suppose. Continue reading “To paint, or not to paint”

When limitations become lamentations

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280Biting off more that you can chew—now there’s a good American idiom!  And it pretty well describes one of my ongoing challenges, physically, professionally, relationally.  If enough is good, more is better, and saving for a rainy day (another fine old saying from who knows when) can turn into moth-eaten clothing or mouse-eaten…well, mice eat all kinds of disgusting things.

Not that I’m into wanton spending either.  I have to be careful, especially with time commitments; Bob says I tend to “give away the store”.  It’s also sometimes difficult for me to share responsibilities, you know, just easier to get it done myself.

However, there is an important fulcrum that I miss when I start playing the psychological game commonly known as “Turf Wars”.  This easily could have happened here as Joshua was slicing up the hard-fought for land of the Israelites:

“This was the homeland allocated to the clans of the tribe of Simeon. Their allocation of land came from part of what had been given to Judah because Judah’s territory was too large for them. So the tribe of Simeon received an allocation within the territory of Judah.”

Boundaries are good.  Actually, good is too generic a term; boundaries are crucial, without which there is no clear definition, identification, or even personality.  In personal terms, when I set my own (emotional, mental, physical, etc.) boundaries, I become increasingly in control—and therefore accountable—for what comes in and out of my personhood.  That sounds nice and psychological, because it is.  I didn’t come up with it; Dr. Henry Cloud did in his book about (guess what) boundaries.

What I see in Old Testament land distribution by Joshua applies also today: 

Judah’s plot was too big, meaning they couldn’t manage it all, which in turn meant large portions would be overrun by wild animals and unwanted non-Israelites again.  This would cause (a) the need for additional clean out, (with potential loss of life, and certainly loss of time—horribly inefficient from a managerial standpoint), and/or (b) the re-infiltration of pagan religious thought, which could trigger a gross backsliding of the Judean tribe, (again, not a pretty picture, based on what did eventually happen to the whole of the nation.)

So God had a good idea, as is His habit.  And Joshua listened, and obeyed.

Unfortunately, what happens oftentimes today, a large load is given to a particular saint, or group of saints, maybe one particular church.  God may bless him/her/them with a favor or outpouring or mission field, whatever. Open doors, open hearts, (open pockets).  YEA!  Go for it! 

THEN, once it gets overwhelming, rather than ask for help or receive the help that God graciously sends, (and He can creatively send it in oh-so-many ways), we choose to see that as an intrusion into “my/our” territory. 

We allow our “turf wars” to severely limit the progress of God’s kingdom on earth, AND free up unused territory otherwise slotted for His Kingdom for another, complete with a wild beast that likes to “kill, steal, and destroy.” 

All because we were too proud and short-sighted to allow the territory to be fully occupied by God’s people…

…even if they weren’t in my immediate “tribe”.

Joshua 19:8-9 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Somebody clean the ox

IMG_20150103_172451138My house is not a clean house. 

Well, I mean it’s hygienic.  We have indoor plumbing and clean water, which, for context and perspective, is more than can be said for most of the planet. 

It’s just that, as Bob says, “my girl is a messy girl”.  Truth.  I really had to acknowledge that when all the girls moved away and the empty nest didn’t really reorder itself.  Nope. 

Just too many books to read, too many posts too write, gardening, projects, and then there’s this thing called a full-time job.  And a husband.  (They take time, too.  Well worth it.  And he’s the clean one of the duo.)

So I find at least some solace in this:

“Without oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest.”

Thank you, King Solomon.

Not that I consider myself a strong ox, although Bob says that I “come from good stock”, whatever that’s supposed to mean.  (He also says, however, that I can “work him under the table”.)

I think it’s probably also easier in parenting, for instance, to take a DIY attitude rather than let the kids learn by doing, because of the potential/probable mess, which makes more work for yours truly (which may or may not get done, see above disclaimer.)

Extrapolate: it’s likewise easier (translate “safer”) to not care so much, try so much, dream so much, reach out so much in this otherwise hostile world we live in this side of eternity.  It gets harsh, uncomfortable….messy.

This citation will probably put me over my word count, but it’s worth the read:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” –Theodore Roosevelt

I have not a clue whether or not good ole’ Teddy would have made it into the White House in today’s climate, but I sure do like this quote.  And if ever there was an ox in a Washington china shop (other than, of course, now) it was Teddy.

sweepSo while the laundry piles up in the stairwell and the dog hair in the kitchen, I’m off to a workday at the church.  The laundry will be there when I get home, and the dog hair never really goes away.

Proverbs 14: 4  Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.